Many home improvement companies have been slow to make any change in suppliers as the industry has slowed during the recent recession. Afraid to rock the boat, retailers of doors and windows have chosen to weather the storm by trying to cut costs rather than investigate new solutions. The market is changing though, mainly due to quantum leaps in technology, composite door manufacturing being a prime example.
Composite doors are recognised as being superior to standard UPVC doors and improvements in the manufacturing process have meant that composite doors are now priced around the same as UPVC doors. I won’t go into much detail as to why composite doors are becoming the preferred choice of UK consumers, there are plenty of articles on that subject, some even written by yours truly. Suffice to say that when faced with a choice of a new family saloon or a new Rolls Royce for about the same price, the choice, for many, is irresistible!
Anyway, I’m well known locally for my marketing experience, in particular assisting new business start-ups and I was delighted to answer the call for a home improvement company in Devon that has for several years been retailing UPVC doors and windows. They were interested in selling composite doors as the demand for them amongst local residents was growing quickly.
The principal reason for this was the fact that the big boys in the home improvement industry, the market leaders in fact, had began selling composite doors recently and had positioned these products at the top of their price range, reflecting the superiority of composite over UPVC doors. door manufacturers
The first problem was the cost of switching the main focus of door retailing to a composite doors range and away from UPVC, which is what all of the competition were offering. Moving into the fast growing composite doors market seemed a good move but the cost of outfitting a showroom was prohibitive. So the first thing we did was to get onto Google, find out who the players were in composite door manufacturing and supply and then put them to the test.
Obviously price and credit facilities were major factors, as was order to delivery turnaround, returns policy and product quality. There seemed to be little difference between the door manufacturers here as all of those approached had many years experience in the home improvements market and recognised the need for credit facilities, keen prices and fast turnaround. Not to mention that with the introduction of British Standards into the composite manufacturing industry, the manufacturing processes were extremely similar.
Where some companies fell down though was when we asked them what they were going to do to help us to sell their products. The lack of marketing support, knowledge and training was truly shameful, indicative of the slow decline in Britain’s manufacturing base (Short term thinking ,worrying about immediate costs versus long term investment for market share has often been the bane of British Industry).
This ‘test’ though allowed certain door manufacturers to shine. The ones that we chose as suppliers were easily recognisable as companies that placed heavy emphasis on customer service and, more importantly recognised that their customer was in fact the retailer, not the end purchaser of a new door.